Archive for May, 2010
So, I have not one lick of three-dimensional creativity. My brother, sister, and I ended up with fairly disparate talents as it turns out. My brother is the athlete and strategic mind (he’s a coach now!). I’m the writer and teacher. And my sister? She’s the crafty one.
She has the cutest little cap shop on Etsy and I’ve been bugging her for awhile to let me plug her on my blog. Finally, I scored her permission as well as a sale for my readers. It helps that I am her favorite sister. She would so not offer that sale to some other sister.
Anyway, from Monday, May 31st, until Saturday, June 5th, she is offering my blog readers 15% off of any of her hats. Here is how you score the discount: visit her site. Check out her styles and then click on a style that appeals to you. When that page comes up, you’ll see an option at the bottom of the page that allows you to contact the seller. Hit that option and send her a message telling her that you are an Hijas blog reader. Every order is a custom order so you can also tell her what colors and size you want and then she’ll set up a special custom order for you on her site for you to purchase the hat with the 15% discount. I tend to buy (I insist that I pay her. She likes to fight me about it but I am taller than she is and she grows tired of my insistence) hats in bulk– counting up all the babies I know that are going to soon be born, figuring out holiday and birthday presents for the little and big kids in my life and then just knowing that my crafty, clever, creative sister will take care of business, and I”ll have the cutest gifts to give when the time comes.
And, now, gratuitous photos of my favorite Milk Money hats…
So I got a camera finally! I went for the Nikon CoolPix L110. I am still a rookie on it but learning how to use it slowly and not so surely it. The great part of the camera buying experience is that I get 6 free camera classes with the purchase (this is exciting also because one of my birthday goals this year was to get a grip on some aspect of technology. It looks that will be my camera!). Those happen in July. The not so great part? I went specifically to a camera store to get really great help and I’m afraid the help wasn’t so great. But I plowed through and think I made a good decision. My worry? That I’ll take this camera class in July and discover I really want a different camera (see Fickle, Beautiful You shows her face entry for more information on that little issue.). Sometimes knowledge is not power. That said, I LOVE the feel of my camera and I love that it has video, black and white capabilities and a continous sports mode (as I said to BF, “I can make a flip book!!!”) so there’s a lot going for this camera. It’s greatest weakness, if we are honest and I am nothing if not honest, is me.
The above photo is one of my first photos with said new camera and that’s the manuscript that I am now proofreading. There’s the waterbottle that will sustain me through the process and the green pen that will do the marking up. As my students will attest, I prefer to make my notes in green or purple or sometimes both.
Yes, I am still eating vegetarian. Well, I’ve strayed twice this week. I had a chicken breast over the weekend at a restaurant that prepares a 40 garlic clove grilled chicken dish and I just had to have it. I was not disappointed. And today Happy and I met friends (who adopted from ET at the same time we did) as they were passing through town at an Ethiopian restaurant, and I just had to have Tibs Wat (beef in berbere sauce. Yum). So other than that, it’s been vegetarian for me for the last month. Do I miss meat? Not on a daily basis and at this point I think I’ll just eat meat if it’s served to me or if it’s something irresistible like chicken coated in 40 garlic cloves or Tibs Wat or, let’s be honest, if there were a real barbeque tomorrow and someone was grilling hot dogs, I’d have one. But I do like the vegetarian focus and find that I eat a lot more fruits and veggies this way which is what I was after so score. The next challenge is going sugar-free for a week or two to reduce my love of sugar. That will be so much harder for me than going vegetarian. Need to eye the calendar to see when that will happen. And I am certain I’ll share the difficulty of that journey with you, too.
Alright, off to proof manuscript pages.
So today’s post is sort of like a summer barbeque. There’s a little bit of everything on the table.
Nugget # 1: Sometimes, in photos like these, I look at him and think, “how did he get so big and where was I when it happened?” The baby in him is disappearing. He’s becoming a funny, friendly, whip-smart boy (if I do say so myself). But I miss that baby. This moment is what fools a parent into (in our case) bringing more children home, isn’t it? You forget about the sleeplessness, the sleeplessness that is so debilitating that you look up in an instant and a year has passed (oh, so that’s where I was when the getting big happened, in a cloud of sleeplessness). And you remember those sweet little moments- how he fit in the nook of your arm and then perfectly on your hip and then just right against you. There are no plans for a wee Happy in the littlest cottage that could yet, but, boy, do I see how it happens.
Nugget # 2 I had the good fortune of being on NPR’s Tell Me More on Tuesday. The discussion was about different aspects of the implications of the news story last week regarding the little girl who questioned Michelle Obama about the immigration issue and then seemed to say that her mom did not have papers. Here’s the story if you are interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=46&prgDate=5-25-2010
Nugget # 3 So, I am working on Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance publicity efforts and one thing I am really excited about doing is a blog tour. A blog tour is exactly what it sounds like– for a set period of time, let’s say the first two weeks the book is out– I “visit” other blogs (don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging here, too– because I need to give you as much stuff as possible to read while you are work?) with a guest post or a Q&A with the blog writer or the blog writer writes a review. Anyway, I am putting together my list of blogs I’d love to visit during my “tour” and am putting an all call out for anyone who has a blog who’d be willing to host me or do a review during the blog tour. If that’s you, let me know in comments and I’ll put you on the list for when we move forward with details on that (likely in August).
And one more thing re: Beautiful You. A few folks asked me if they should go ahead and pre-order. Of course, you can but there will be some promotion events here at the end of September to reward those early Beautiful You patrons so you might want to wait. Totally up to you, of course, as it is available already on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Just wanted to give you the heads up about the goodies.
Alright, the 400 page packet that is the proofs of Beautiful You arrived via EXTREMELY URGENT UPS today so I need to go start proofreading (and this is just proofread round 1; there is a second proofread round after we correct anything from Round 1).
Hope you enjoyed the barbeque.
Driving the car
through the local township-
that bitch of a machine-
she catches a glimpse
of her beauty starved face
in that dingy rearview-
its moods dictating
when it might
A red Alfa Romeo
waif with a Virginia Slim
at the wheel,
“Funny that I smoke Reds,”
All that she needs
that bitch of a machine.
The engine runs better
All that she needs
that beauty starved face.
Maybe then she wouldn’t
suck her checks in,
tuck her stomach in,
force her breasts out
she walks through
the local grocery
where Al sits
at the counter, saying
“You sure were beautiful”
and forces her present state
into the past.
Driving the car
through the local township,
at the elementary school
covering car pool.
She sees petite frames
tucking children away,
much like she tucks her stomach.
Then lights her Red,
romancing the smoke
in that dingy rearview
by the hollows of her face
where slight cheekbones
when she inhales.
There are various moments when a book becomes real to her writer.
There is the moment when a publisher says, “yes, that’s brilliant. I must have it” and you go to contract (Okay, maybe I am embellishing a bit there but just work with me).
There is the moment when you pound out the last word of the 400 pages and realize that in front of you are 400 pages of stuff you said that did not exist before.
There’s the moment when your editor says, “yes, it’s brilliant. We really are going to publish it.” (Again, perhaps there is a touch of embellishment there.)
And then there is this moment. The moment when you, your editor, and the amazing team that supports your publisher- especially the designer- find the cover that is absolutely meant to visually represent your book. This, ladies and gentlemen (Hi BF, Hi Poppy), is that cover– born both of visualization and discussion but also of someone else (the designer) just getting the spirit of the book on her own. This cover takes my breath. I love it on its own, but then I also love how it resembles the cover of Hijas Americanas in some ways. You can’t see either woman’s face and yet the photograph is evocative. There is bright colorwork on the bottom of each cover. And, on this cover, I love how that bright floral scroll resembles a tattoo on this woman’s back– even though it’s not and I am way too wimpy and fickle to get a tattoo (I would absolutely fall out of love with it well after the tattoo artist started it but definitely before she finished it.). I like that my book cover model might not be as wimpy or fickle or boring as me. To that I say, you go girl. And to this book cover, I say cheers! I love you already. And I know that I’ll never get tired of looking at you.
Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance comes out October 5th. Between now and then, we will have lots of build-up, buzz, contests, and other fun on here. Let me know if you have any ideas!
Now, what do you think of the cover? Do you have any questions about the process that I didn’t answer? Let me know!
I usually call the kid ‘baby as in ‘baby and I are blowing bubbles’ or ‘baby and I had this for lunch’ or ‘baby and I are going to the Y.’ But, it seems, that baby now burps and smells like a pre-teen boy. I am mourning this, I am. I mean, seriously, what a rude friggin-awakening. I knew it was coming. I just thought it would come when he was actually a pre-teen boy. I think I’ll call him kid now.
Kid was especially naughty this morning. In the space of two hours, he discovered and did the following…
1. Figured out how to open the back door and let himself out twice. I was on him like a mama is but, seriously, now I have to deadbolt us in at all times.
2. Figured out how to open the child safety knobs on the stove and let some great pilot light gas out in the moment it took me to open the refrigerator to get his milk. I turned around and ALL FIVE KNOBS WERE OPEN. A skill he did not have three seconds before.
3. Figured out how to open our child-locked television cabinet (Dad, your MASH season 1 DVD that you loaned me because you really wanted me to remember what all the hype was about Radar and company? It will never quite be the same.) and the child-locked medicine cabinet.
4. Figured out how to crawl over the side of our garden tub (the kid is crazy tall for his age) and promptly went for my razor, of course.
Fortunately, I follow this child around like it is my job (because, you know, well, it is) so he stays out of the danger that he is just on the cusp of discovering at all turns, but, seriously, seriously? I feel like I deserve not just pay, but hazard pay.
Don’t let that sweet face up there fool you. This one, this one is trouble.
Here is what I have cracked open now:
Rough Justice by Peter Elkind
The Adonis Complex by Harrison Pope, Katharine Phillips, and Roberto Olivardia
Here is what I should have open (these were in this same spot last time):
The World Has Curves by Julia Savacool
Bodies by Susie Orbach
(I am rewriting my body image syllabus for next semester so I need to figure out the new readings but since I just finished this semester, I am taking a break from too much body image reading)
Here is what I recently closed:
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Lift by Kelly Corrigan
The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
Picking Cotton by Ron Cotton and Jennifer Thompson
Here is what I will open soon:
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt
A Game of Character by Craig Robinson
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristo
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
Any you? What are you reading and loving?
“We are all just one phone call away from living a totally different life,” said Kelly Corrigan at a speaking event I went to last week (you might remember that I recommended The Middle Place a couple years ago and her newest book is an equally good read called Lift).
Too often, those phone calls are tragic. They bear news of children or parents lost too young or cancer or some other unthinkable tragedy. But when Kelly said those words, my mind went instead to the phone call that we received that changed our lives just two summers ago. The phone call that let us know—though we had only decided a few weeks before that we were ready to start a family but by ready to start a family, we meant after we traveled to Italy and Alaska and renovated the little cottage that could (so ready to start a family in 2010, we thought)— there was a baby boy in Africa who was the son we were waiting for. He was born just weeks before, perhaps even the same day that we were walking on the beach saying, “alright, let’s go for it.” And since that phone call, every decision we have made has been with Happy and his needs in mind.
Corrigan talked a good deal about parenthood during her visit and much of it reminded me of basic tenets I want to hold both true and at the forefront of my mind as I parent the irrepressible boy that Happy is. She talked about how when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, she called her parents and she knew that they would come because that’s what parents do. May I always be a parent who comes.
She said “what a bold and dangerous thing it is to love a child.” May I always remember the gift, the opportunity that I have been given — chosen, at what might seem like random but what I know was inspired– to parent Happy.
And though we can’t “live at altitude,” as Kelly said, that space above our grounded Earthen existence that lets us always keep things in perspective, may I always remember that my job as a parent is to give Happy a “run at happiness.” He’s there now, yes, but may BF and I always do the hard work to help him make the choices that will keep him there and do the emotional work that will help him process difficult experience and climb out of it with a gift and not just a wound.
Here’s another truth that I share with students in my body image seminar: You have to find something you love. Notice I didn’t say someone. Nope, we’re pretty good at that. It’s the something to love that is harder, but just as essential.
Early on, I fell in love with reading and writing. I poured myself into words. Whether I was reading under my dinosaur covers (Yep, I had a dinosaur comforter. That I picked out. I was 15.) or filling spiral notebooks at my desk, whether I was cutting words out of magazines and plastering my bedroom wall with them in the world’s largest collage/vision board (God bless my parents and their patience) or pounding out stories on my typewriter and, later, my trusty Brother Word Processor that went to college with me, words were my thing. I had a few other things, too as a girl. I loved volunteering and I loved being involved in organizing events, galvanizing causes, promoting unity. So there you have it. Words, volunteering, organizing were my things. And because I had a thing (or three), I developed a sense of self that didn’t rely on my physical appearance and in many ways that insulated me from the worst possible throws of body insecurity that I could have spiraled into– especially when I arrived at college and realized that I was physically and financially and culturally so very different from everyone around me. The writing, the volunteering, the organizing, as soon as I got back to them, grounded me again and gave me a bit of a protective sheath to minimize the loneliness and pain I could sometimes feel.
Growing up, we often look for our definition from other people. But the people in our lives change, their understanding or appreciation of us changes, and if we are constantly looking for our definition to come from the people in our lives, we aren’t standing on necessarily stable ground.
When we find something to love, when we find an interest that really fills us up and occupies our mind and energy, we often lose the desire to have other people define us or the desire to stare in a mirror and reflect on what’s wrong with us. We have other stuff to do and it’s important. So, no time for the mirror now, no time for lamenting the partner we do or don’t have. There’s a horse to be ridden, a dog to be trained, a painting that needs painting, a story to be written, a dress to design, a garden to plant. You get the picture.
When I was interviewing women for Hijas Americanas, I quickly discovered that the women that were most insulated from the pains and discomforts of coming of age were the women who had found a passion. They were the volunteer, the softball player, the violinist, the writer, the rollerskater (who became a speed skating Olympian), not the blonde, the thin, the pretty. Their self-definitions were so much bigger than the surface and so they never tried to fit into a little box of someone else’s understanding. By falling in love with something, they fell in love with themselves. And that is really the essential truth for self-satisfaction.
What is your thing? What do you love? What do your pour yourself into? What are you doing that allows your identity to come from within? It is only when we find our true voices that we can have a sustainable sense of pride, comfort, and ease in who we are.
The other day, I was telling a friend a story. I said something along the lines of, “And I wasn’t going to engage because one of my rules is Don’t Engage Crazy. You often can’t ignore crazy (because, let’s face it, the reason the person gets crazy is so that they are not ignored.) but you can certainly not engage crazy.” And my friend stopped and said, “You have a rule to not engage crazy?”
“Absolutely,” I said. Because the truth is that if you engage crazy, your life is about to get hijacked. And I don’t do hostage taking. Nope, not at all.
Except for, of course, the reason I was telling my friend this story was because I had accidentally– though I knew the warning signs were there– engaged crazy after avoiding it with this person (not my friend but another person who I don’t know all that well because I have been avoiding what I thought might be a malestrom of craziness if I plugged in) for more than a year. I had dodged and dodged and dodged crazy and then stepped right into it when I wasn’t suspecting it. And it blew up in my face. Because that’s what crazy does. Explodes.
I called myself out on the carpet after it happened. I licked my wounds, and then I reminded myself, “don’t engage crazy.”
Now, let me be clear. This kind of crazy is the crazy making crazy. The drama making, hysterical making crazy. Not the a little left of center crazy which I have to be honest, I have a big heart for. What I don’t have the heart for is the escalating, name calling, accusing, maddening, pot stirring crazy. You know the kind.
That’s my public service announcement today: Don’t Engage Crazy.
You do not deserve to be taken hostage.